Red-Tailed Hawk by Jon Brierley
I'd been out for most of the day trying to get some pictures of a Bufflehead hanging out in my local park. Finally getting a few non-crappy ones, I came back home for a coffee . Minutes after plopping myself down in front of the TV, a bunch of crows started making a racket and flying past my balcony - just feet away. I got up to have a look, and did a double-take. There was a Red-Tailed Hawk sitting right on my balcony railing.
That's a great story in itself, but it's certainly not the end. I grabbed my camera, and hid myself behind the curtain. I opened the first balcony door about eight inches - very slowly. So far so good. I opened the second balcony door about eight inches - very slowly. Perfect, no problems. I'm behind the curtain with just the lens sticking out. I start taking pictures. Five minutes elapsed, the bird's fine, looking this way, looking that way, calm, relaxed.
Occasionally it looks at the bottom of the doors. Finally, it starts taking a longer interest in the base of the doors - that should have been the tip-off, but I missed it. In the blink of an eye, it's through the opening and has my foot!
My feet had are sticking out the bottom of the curtains, and (I'm guessing) it's mistaken the carpet as brown meadow grass and my wiggling toes as a tasty morsel trying to hide in it. I yelped, it realized it's mistake and in another blink it was back through the opening and giving me a disgusted look from the floor of the balcony.
Damage: a small scratch, nothing serious. I can't blame it, really: Here it thought it was going to have lunch, only to find it had been tricked (albeit inadvertently). It hopped back on the balcony railing, I ran for the peroxide, and after a couple more minutes it flew off for greener pastures none the worse for wear.
This shot was mere seconds before "the incident", which explains the rather intense look it's got on it's face, and the direction of its gaze.
So the moral of the story is... wiggling toes in black socks can look a lot like a squirrel to a hungry hawk. I'd advise wearing shoes at all times. Trust me, that's the voice of experience speaking!
Sometimes, you really don't have to go far!
Jon Brierley NBC Publisher